Joseph Allen Skinner was a local silk manufacturer and collector who funneled the bulk of his collecting passions into the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum, now of Mount Holyoke College. But what, we often wonder, prompted one individual to amass over 7000 objects in his museum and home, as well as buildings and a famous mountain? Drawing upon archival sources and a plethora of objects, as well as research into collecting practices and material culture, Harned argues that the answer to this tantalizing question can be found embedded in the landscape of Skinner’s youth in the Pioneer Valley.
Cheryl Harned is a PhD candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of History, and is writing her dissertation on Joseph Skinner, tentatively titled, Collected: The Wondrous Things of Joseph Allen Skinner, 1862-1946. She has also worked with many local museums and collections, including serving as curator of the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum before returning to UMass to complete her PhD in Public History, US History and Early Modern History of Science.